Lost My Job Cause I Got Sick
February 22, 2010 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Did this happen to you? Went out sick, my bosses boss replaced me within a week, replacement broke into my office and removed all my stuff. HR said they would find me a comparable position in the company when I return. After 4 weeks I’m ready to return with a doctor’s note ready for full duty and they don’t have a job for me! They’re not telling me anything else. YANML but do I need one? I’m a single parent of a teenager in NYC. Thanks. Throwaway: NervisPervis@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need a lawyer.
posted by OmieWise at 6:44 AM on February 22, 2010 [7 favorites]

FMLA is to prevent this sort of thing.

you need a laywer.

i just googled FMLA attorney NY and got a whole bunch of firms.
maybe your doctor's office can refer you to someone they have worked with?

do you know anyone who knows a lawyer? even if it's not an FMLA lawyer, they might know someone who does practice in that area.

good luck!!!

as for now, document everything, including any phone calls you get from them. i wouldn't say anything else to them at this point.
posted by sio42 at 6:51 AM on February 22, 2010

replacement broke into my office and removed all my stuff.

I will say, at least in the "state" where I live and work, this is a red herring. The work products in your office belong to your company, and not to you. Your "private" office is only private insofar as your work decides to allow it to be so. I mention this because it's an understandably emotional thing to have "your" stuff taken, but you shouldn't allow it to take too much of your attention.
posted by OmieWise at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

There is all sorts of relevant information missing here, but I don't even really care to know because bottom line is you need to talk to a lawyer.
posted by amro at 7:03 AM on February 22, 2010

Like others have said, there isn't enough information here and you should get a lawyer.

Also, before anyone here gets you riled up about FMLA (or ADA, possibly), keep in mind that FMLA might not apply to your employer (e.g. too few employees) or you (e.g. if you haven't worked there long enough). Also, unlike many other states, NY doesn't have a family/medical leave law.
posted by Pax at 7:13 AM on February 22, 2010

The question is did you sign FMLA paperwork and get approved for it? If not, I don't think you have a case but check with a lawyer. Sorry your (ex) employer is such a jerk.
posted by stormpooper at 7:17 AM on February 22, 2010

While OmieWise is correct that work-product would be property of the company, the poster's lawyer would be better at helping determine if she had a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding her personal property stored in an apparently locked office while she was on sick leave.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:18 AM on February 22, 2010

Contact the Employment Law Project. They're a legal aid clinic specializing in employment issues.

A number of people have cited the Family Medical Leave Act, but I don't think the FMLA is going to apply here, as you didn't arrange for this sick time to be covered under that statute. Not all sick days are FMLA days.

Still, this does sound a little fishy, and it wouldn't surprise me if this violates a number of state statutes. That's why you need a lawyer.
posted by valkyryn at 7:28 AM on February 22, 2010

People, please. We do not know if FMLA applies here (as I pointed out above), but not setting it up beforehand doesn't automatically exclude the possibility that it does.

Please see a lawyer and don't listen to people who say, without knowing your details, that you can't take FMLA if you don't submit paperwork beforehand - that's just not true. While I am not saying that FMLA does apply to you, there are circumstances under which an unforseeable medical condition or illness will be treated as FMLA leave. It is certainly not outside the realm of possibility that "being sick" for a week that turns into a month, with a doctor's certification would be be protected under FMLA.

Here's the DOL FAQ on FMLA. It includes information about employee notice. Please take this issue to your lawyer.
posted by Pax at 7:40 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

They’re not telling me anything else.

That's because they're shitting themselves thinking that you're documenting every interaction with the intention of going to an employment lawyer.

Which you should be!
posted by a young man in spats at 8:34 AM on February 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Lawyer. Not AskMetafilter.
posted by dilettante at 8:43 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, please see a lawyer.

A personal anecdote : a friend of mine slipped on some ice and broke her lower leg in several places. After being in the hospital for some time, and after several surgeries, she was sent home with instructions to stay off the leg entirely - no work.

She believed that her employer, who she'd worked over 10 years for, would "take care of her." She had personal and friendly relationships with many of the board members. She wouldn't apply for FMLA, or even look into it after the fact, saying that she didn't think it was necessary.

Like your situation, they found someone else for her position, and put her off by saying they would find her a comparable position. The position she was given when she was finally medically cleared to return was a demotion with a salary decrease of over 15%.

Not only that, but the administrator gave her an "action plan" designed for her new position, with results that were mainly dependent on factors she couldn't control. After she (predictably) failed, she was let go. The board members gave only mealy-mouthed expressions of sympathy and offers for a reference.

So...please don't expect HR or anyone in your company to do the right thing. See your lawyer.
posted by HopperFan at 8:43 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Employment Lawyer here. You should contact a NY employment attorney. Look here.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

-they don’t have a job for me!

I won't disavow what anyone is saying about FMLA or lawyers etc., but in a non-medical HR-promised-me-a-position situation last year, I was left to do a lot of my own legwork on finding an appropriate position and making connections between HR and the hiring managers to get things done. Depending on the details of this situation, it may be appropriate to take matters more "in your own hands." In any case, good luck.
posted by whatzit at 10:47 AM on February 22, 2010

Did you do a decent job in the position? Can you continue to do that? Might want to make it clear to management how much more cost effective it's going to be to have you resume your duties as opposed to the legal costs they'll incur otherwise. Better to shift the scab to another post rather than pay an attorney to defend themselves. I'd imagine a lawyer would be the best candidate to present this to the company, not you.
posted by wkearney99 at 11:16 AM on February 22, 2010

Hi I'm the op.

I was there 17 years, over 100 employees, called and emailed a few lawyers and filed for unemployment.

Thanks all.
posted by jara1953 at 11:19 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

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